RACINE, WI (WIFR) -- Today the Mayor, City Council Members, and the Chief of Police headed to Racine, Wisconsin to study a prisoner re-entry program. Local leaders say Rockford has 800 parolees, and less than 20 parole officers to monitor them. That means high rates of recidivism and many repeat offenders.
Racine's program is designed to give people help when they are released from prison - providing everything from transportation to job skills.
Racine's recidivism rate is only 15.5%, compared to a national rate of 25%. More than 200 people have gone through the city's mandated re-entry program. Offenders who are considered the most at-risk for re-offending are mandated to participate in the program, and they can't drop out.
Rockford doesn't have any halfway houses or many resources for people trying to re-enter society. Racine's program is funded through grants and monies donated by the United Way and private local businesses.
City leaders in Rockford want to bring similar programs here, and have discussed arranging for parolees to have free bus fare in order to get to and from job interviews.